Women's cricket

Sarah Taylor in talks to play men's cricket

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 14, 2013

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Sarah Taylor plays towards the off-side, England v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, Women's World T20, Colombo, October 4, 2012
Sarah Taylor has scored four one-day international hundreds for England © ICC/Getty
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Sarah Taylor, the England wicketkeeper, has revealed she is in discussions to play men's second XI county cricket later this year.

Taylor, who will shortly fly to India for the Women's World Cup, is hoping to play for the Sussex second XI at some point during the 2013 season.

Mark Lane, the England Women's coach, has led the way in trying to secure Taylor a spot in a men's team and the plan is for her to start with Birmingham League side Walmley. A number of the England women's team play regular men's club cricket.

"Mark is looking at me getting some games with the second XI at Sussex and that will be just phenomenal cricket," Taylor told the Guardian. "The plan is also for me to play some early season games for the MCC boys. Mark is trying to get me a lot of men's cricket which can only help my game."

Taylor, 23, would target the longer form of limited-overs cricket where the difference in power would be more easily accommodated. One of the measurable differences between the women's and men's game is that it is played with a slightly smaller cricket ball.

"There's part of me doubting myself," she said. "I've just got to start believing in myself a little bit more. But I would love to do it. It would be such a challenge - facing a bigger ball and bigger bowlers. But I'd have to look at myself after the second XI games and say: 'Can you handle this?'"

Taylor is regarded as one of the finest women cricketers of all time. She averages 39.42 from 71 one-day internationals including four hundreds and has a strike-rate of 112 from her 46 Twenty20s (the fifth-highest among players to have made 15 or more appearances) alongside an average of 32.94

In 2011, Taylor's England team-mate Arran Brindle became the first woman to score a hundred in men's Premier League cricket as she hit 128 for Louth in the Lincolnshire League.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by anton1234 on (January 15, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

The problem is men bowl and bat very differently when they play against a woman. It cannot be explained properly but the psychology is completely different. It will be impossible to know how she will perform because the men just will not play properly when they face a woman.

Posted by igorolman on (January 15, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

I've got nothing against women playing male cricket - as glance_to_leg mentions, men often lose their heads one way or another against women bowlers and play the bowler not the ball. Also, to coin a phrase, if she's good enough, she's man enough.

My big problem comes with what this does to her core skills, since she will be playing with a bigger ball - will exposure to this damage her game in women's cricket? And, vitally for the national team, will she get time off from Sussex 2's to go play for England if Matt Prior is doing the same?

Posted by PanGlupek on (January 15, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

@John Firth, I've played alongside and against high-standard women & umpired in women's leagues & I'd have to disagree with anyone who says women tend not to be as good technically as men. If anything, standard of technique in the higher women's leagues may be better than it is in the men's game (arguably because men are more likely to be able to substitute technique for brute force).

The most notable differenes for me are that even some of the better women occasionally can seem scared of the ball when fielding in men's teams (sorry, but just my experience), and the bowling is not as quick. You also tend not to see many women with bullet arms either. Behaviour towards umpires, spirit of game etc is far better in the women's game.

In Tails' case, these differences shouldn't be an issue given that she's a wicket-keeper, apart from possibly how long it will take her to adapt to the quicker average speeds of the bowlers. Technique will definitely not be an issue for her at that level.

Posted by CaptainPedant on (January 15, 2013, 15:24 GMT)

Good luck to her - if she's good enough to do a 2nd XI job as a keeper and bat then let her do it. But let's not get carried away or say silly things about the physical superiority of the top 0.001% of women to "most men" - that's not the comparison that matters.

Posted by Bobby_Talyarkhan on (January 15, 2013, 15:01 GMT)

Cricket needs to expand to cover places and people not usually admitted to the higher echelons of the game. It is good that cricket is expanding to areas like China and it is good that women are being allowed to play with men. Every human being is different so essentialist nostrums about physical strength should be dispensed with - fast. We need to evolve and that means to stop discriminating against human beings on any ground - gender, race, sexual orientation, whatever. Good luck to Sarah!

Posted by 200ondebut on (January 15, 2013, 13:20 GMT)

If she went out to Oz she could probably get into one of the state sides!

I am pleased this is happening and is happening for the right reasons and not just a publicity stunt. Women should be treated as equals and it is about time all of this single sex sport was scrapped and the best players, regardless of sex, all competed together. .

Posted by An_offside_rant on (January 15, 2013, 11:14 GMT)

I think this is fabulous! She will be tested facing pacy bowler that reach 135kph but she has the timing necessary. I don't see why "Power" is a big deal, players that thrive on timing and technique like Mahela Jayawardena and Hashim Amla outshine powerhouses like Pollard any day. Kudos to you Sarah in proving one can be lady-like in the "Gentlemen's Game"!

Posted by CarlP on (January 15, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster contgratulations on the most politically correct comment on this whole thread! Not accurate but politically correct (and surely equal means as good as not the best)!!!

Men and women are different, we cannot be totally equal. Women are better than men at certain things, men are better than woman at others. Facts are that men (at the top level, not every man!) are better than woman at physical activities.

Posted by CarlP on (January 15, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

Just heard an interview and it appears that they are proposing a sensible strategy. Comments about havine to get used to different balls, bowling speeds, the lengths bowled, etc and also training with the men to see how it goes with nothing cast in stone.

Hopefully she will only get in if she performs better than the men (not just as good or a little bit worse, equal opportunities and all that!).

Talk of women getting in men's internation teams is getting boring, it will not happen with any of the big countries. Yes some play men's club cricket but there is a very big step between the two.

The physical difference between the sexes at the peak of the game will dictate that a woman could not compete at that level. If they can't really do it in a non-dynamic sport like golf how could they do it in a dynamic one like cricket. If it does happen (and on an equal basis) I'll happily eat my own words!

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 15, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

Well time for the girls to SHOW how they are the best humans. I am throwing my support behind her big time. Why not ? I think men and women are EQUAL in all respects. Come on Sarah !!!

Posted by Hardy1 on (January 15, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

Could lead to some awkward situations but if she's good enough then why not. Doesn't reflect well on the women's game though if the best players go on to play with the men, it'll just provide even less incentive to watch the women's game if the best players aren't even playing in it.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 15, 2013, 9:11 GMT)

@ZB/Voiceofreason - I thought - just from watching cricket and not having any stats info - that the difference in speeds would be greater. I'm just imagining the scenario if a bowler bounces ST and causes an injury. I know bowlers don't go out to injure batsmen with the short pitch stuff but I would think a bowler would feel worse if this happened when bowling to a woman than a bloke and I wonder if (subconsciously or otherwise) the bowler may hold back because of this? Maybe I'm living in the dark ages but I think if I was a fast bowler I'd probably hold back a little or at least refrain from the chin music

Posted by anton1234 on (January 15, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

I watched a bit of the womens T20 world cup and the fastest deliveries are around 65MPH, some 30 MPH slower than men's fastest.

Anyway, I swear if women are allowed to play alongside men, I will never watch another game of cricket.

Posted by zenboomerang on (January 15, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

@JG2704... I couldn't see any bowler holding back - imagine walking back into the dressing rooms as a male bowler after being smacked around the ground by Taylor - the conversations would be very colourful indeed - lol...

Don't know your women bowlers that well, but Ellyse Perry is considered a fast-medium bowler & doesn't get over 120kph, so I guess that puts them about 20kph slower than their mens equivalent... That being said, I imagine that Taylor would spend some time against the bowling machine & the mens nets to get up to speed if she is serious about competing at that level...

Posted by npc_cricketlover on (January 15, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

good things too can happen in the game of cricket!

Posted by voice_of_reason on (January 15, 2013, 6:58 GMT)

@JG2704 Fastest women bowlers are around 75-78 mph. There's no doubt she would get a working over in men's cricket. Why wouldn't she? Tail enders these days aren't let off the hook. However pace is something you can condition yourself to facing by ramping up the speeds on the bowling machine. Then it's all a matter of guts.

It's generally considered that the England women are currently at the level of a county Under 17 team as a whole. If you consider that by that age, Steve Finn was already playing the occasional game for Middlesex's first team, you'll understand why.

Fielding at international standard is generally excellent, particularly the England team. Lydia Greenway is exceptional. Arms may not be as string as the best men but techniques are better.

Posted by Surajdon9 on (January 15, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

BCCI should try to Make taylor as a TEST & ODI Captain of Indian team..

Posted by elmo_leon on (January 15, 2013, 3:59 GMT)

There are going to be lots of awkward situations inside the dressing room. ;)

Posted by mattbalmer on (January 15, 2013, 0:54 GMT)

Ellyse Perry (Australia) she played has played club cricket in Sydney being the only female in the comp, i find no problems with Taylor doing this and wish her the very best, if she can get the spot.

Posted by basusri133b on (January 15, 2013, 0:41 GMT)

I think this is excellent,I wish her the best. I bet she could easily find a place in the current Indian Test or ODI side.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2013, 0:22 GMT)

Give her a trial, if shes good enough she plays if not shes dropped. Can't say fairer than that.

Posted by TheXI on (January 14, 2013, 23:44 GMT)

Women in men's sports usually does not go well at the professional level. Take for example the Canadian gold medal winning ice hockey team; they lost to a boys high school team. I mean it might be good practice for Taylor but I doubt there will be a great contribution.

Posted by CarlP on (January 14, 2013, 23:43 GMT)

@hhillbumper I'm not sure how you state she is good enough? She has said herself that she isn't sure she is and it's not as if you've got any historic basis to back it up as, unless I'm mistaken, she has never played 2nd XI mens cricket?

I watch with interest but am pretty sure she won't be up to standard, that's not prejudice just the most likely outcome. I actually hope I'm proved wrong as it would make for interesting watching!!

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 22:46 GMT)

I have seen some women players and feel that some would not be out of place on the men's team. Taylor of the WI would put some of the men to shame. She can hit the ball and is more technically sound than most. She has some beautiful drives.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 14, 2013, 22:01 GMT)

It's a strange one this. I thought I read on Sky that she was just going to be used as a WK/fielder , so if that's the case are Sussex going to be able to have a replacement as a batsmen? Taylor has really impressed me with both gloves and bat. I'm also a boxing fan and some women loook like women when they box and some look like men - technically I mean of course. ST falls into the latter when catagoree when I've seen her play. The one thing I will say is that although it is not a contact sport as such would an opposition pace bowler bowl anything of hostile nature at her or would he hold back? Would she get any chin music from the opposition bowler? I don't know the difference in speeds between an average woman bowler and an average male bowler but I'd imagine they'd be pretty substantial. So I wonder what happens if you're a bowler and you have a full on chivalric side but you are pushing for a place in your county's 1st 11 - do you hold back or go for it?

Posted by sephotrig on (January 14, 2013, 21:50 GMT)

Put it this way shes far better than 5/6 of Australia mens top order.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 14, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

@Manpreet Singh on (January 14 2013, 16:19 PM GMT) Isn't that why we play Dernbach in all these games

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 14, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

she is good enough so why not.Shame she has no south african heritage or else she would be a walk in for the mens team.

Posted by Steveae70 on (January 14, 2013, 21:02 GMT)

At Lermy, she would probably walk straight into my beloved Black caps team. Might actually score some runs to unlike the blokes

Posted by CarlP on (January 14, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

It's an interesting concept and it's pleasing to see the realistic view being taken by Sarah herself. I've enjoyed watching women's cricket more than any other female sport, however, the comment that she might play in a men's first XI is a bit optimistic as there is a massive difference in standard between male and female cricket.

In debates like this people seem to forget that there is big difference in the physical ability of males and females, this isn't sexism, just fact.

Good luck though, I would like to see how it goes.

Posted by richardror on (January 14, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

Maybe she should move to Australia and get into their test team.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (January 14, 2013, 19:11 GMT)

@Manpreet Singh: I wouldn't be so sure, not if they're as talented as Sarah Taylor!

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

The temptation to make a sarcastic comment is there but...what of women's golf? Nearly every amateur male handicap golfer is told to watch a female pro and copy the swing, so technically there's no problem (other than the male ego saying "I can hit it as far as John Daly"). I can't see any problems with the keeping. Only issue is as a batsman and the slightly heavier ball and the pace (to which I'm sure Sarah will be able to adapt - hours with a bowling machine will prepare). The real HARD part will be the press interest and constant attention - every failure, missed stumping, dropped catch, duck etc. will be accompanied by the inevitable 'told you so'. Best wishes - hope it works out

Posted by Smahuta on (January 14, 2013, 18:19 GMT)

Will make for an interesting dressing room setup, no?

Posted by JAH8 on (January 14, 2013, 18:04 GMT)

Might I suggest there is currently some confusion in the statistics within this article between Claire Taylor and Sarah Taylor?

Posted by philvic on (January 14, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

It must be a huge gulf between womens cricket and any representative mens cricket, just in terms of the pace. But if she can cope, why not. Presumably she has faced professional male pace bowlers in the nets and can handle them.

Posted by Lermy on (January 14, 2013, 17:47 GMT)

What about playing for NZ men?

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (January 14, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

Fancy being stumped by a woman!!

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (January 14, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

Long overdue. I have thought that a trick was missed when twenty20 cricket started in England, and that they should have gone for mixed teams there.

Posted by StaalBurgher on (January 14, 2013, 17:18 GMT)

That would be quite impressive. I have always wondered if there was some sort rule that disqualified women from men's competitions. Obviously not.

Posted by Jimmers on (January 14, 2013, 16:49 GMT)

I've seen her play and I honestly think she'll eventually play first XI men's cricket. She'd already walk into many FC teams as specialist keeper, and her batting and presence will benefit everyone involved: herself, the team she plays for, and the kids to whom she'll set an excellent example. Good luck Sarah!

Posted by anton1234 on (January 14, 2013, 16:28 GMT)

I use to love watching sports in my spare time, but ever since women have started encroaching on men's sports, I have lost passion for sports altogether. The 'macho' aspect was one of things that was attractive in sport.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 16:19 GMT)

"In fact, England should play women cricketers in their national men's team, hence making it easier for India to beat England."

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 16:11 GMT)

I also found it interesting that Mike Selvey at the Guardian, who is a former Test cricketer and watches the women's game closely, thinks she can handle this level and go even further in the future, to first class level. In one sense I would be amazed if this were true but Selve knows better than I.

Assuming that she can stay healthy though, with experience I guess I could see her keeping and batting at 8 in first class cricket and being worth her place. What a story that would be. I am not sure if the athletic demands of keeping to a first-class standard are doable, but it won't be size issue if so. She's bigger than Tatenda Taibu, after all.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 16:10 GMT)

It's a very good move if they can arrange it. One criticism frequently thrown about is that women players aren't as technically good as the men. This sort of thing should help a great deal.

Posted by TheScot on (January 14, 2013, 15:59 GMT)

Very well done. English ball is in safe hands after Prior's retirement. Hope you reach that level and set a benchmark for both women and men cricket.

Posted by EngineerKhan on (January 14, 2013, 15:55 GMT)

That is a some achievement - just thinking and finding courage to play in the men's game itself speaks a lot. She is such a good player that even here in Pakistan I know about her and in fact admirer of her batting. She, Sana Mir and Charlotte Edwards are only woman players whom I know. It takes some real hard work to make your name in the game which is heavy-weight on men's side (and should be inevitably)

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 15:52 GMT)

Technically she's a good keeper, probably well up to 2nd XI standard although the bigger rip the male spinners get at that level will be a test. But she plays a high standard of men's cricket already, so I can't imagine anything will really surprise her.

It's as a batter that I am really interested in seeing what she might do. She moves the ball around wonderfully, plays late and with conviction,very good at negotiating the field. There will be a lot of 2nd XI players who will benefit from watching how she handles the attack.

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